Robin Soderling is preparing to lead from the front once again, but this time he will be courtside as the captain of a young Swedish team looking to make its mark in Group B of the Davis Cup by Rakuten Finals

Robin Soderling is no stranger to leading his country on the court. Between 2007 and 2011 he spearheaded his side into battle no less than seven times as Sweden’s No.1.

Now, aged 37, Soderling is preparing to lead from the front once again, but this time he will be courtside as the captain of a young Swedish team looking to make its mark in Group B of the Davis Cup by Rakuten Finals.

Soderling, who reached a career-high of No.4 in the world and who famously became the first man to defeat Rafael Nadal at Roland-Garros back in 2009, hopes that his own experiences as a player help to give his words extra weight when it comes to his role as Swedish skipper.

“To be a good captain I think you have to realise that if you have five players, there’s going to be five different personalities,” he explained. “So you have to think what works best on this player and what works best on another player. That’s what I try to do.

“I also try to go back a lot to myself and think ‘how did I feel as a player?’. I would like to think that when players ask me things, they can feel that whatever I say it’s from my experience, because I experienced those matches for myself. I played the big matches and all players have the same struggles, the same feelings.”  

Soderling is also well aware that he has a duty to impress upon his young charges the prestige of representing your country, especially a country with as rich a tennis history as seven-time Davis Cup champions Sweden.

"Davis Cup is a big thing for every player – it’s up there with the Grand Slams. Every player really wants to succeed in Davis Cup."

“I remember as a young kid going to watch the Swedish matches and I was dreaming about maybe one day in my life playing there. All the players in the team grew up with Swedish Davis Cup matches, they’ve been to basically all of the home matches when they were kids so everybody feels Davis Cup is something big.

“Of course, it’s a new format now, not as many home and away matches, but still, Davis Cup is a big thing for every player – it’s up there with the Grand Slams. Every player really wants to succeed in Davis Cup.”

And success might be closer than Soderling first thought when he saw the Davis Cup Finals draw back in March 2020. Handed a spot in Group B alongside Canada and Kazakhstan, Sweden were seen as the outsiders.

Fast-forward to November 2021 and the tables have turned. A depleted Canada is without Denis Shapovalov, Felix Auger-Aliassime and Milos Raonic. On paper it’s now Kazakhstan who are the favourites with No.36 Alexander Bublik leading the men in light blue. But Soderling thinks his Swedish team could ruffle some feathers.

“Our goal is to win the Group,” he said. “That goal hasn’t changed. Maybe now it’s even more reachable.

“We really have a good team. Swedish tennis right now is not like it was 15, 20 years ago when we had a really big team with many options. But we still have good players, the Ymer brothers and a good doubles team. Mikael is playing extremely well.

“The guys all love Davis Cup. It means a lot to all the Swedish players. Sooner or later you want to play matches so it’s great that it’s finally happening.”

#DavisCupFinals #byRakuten